Utah Valley University now is under federal investigation for its handling of a sexual assault complaint — the fifth of Utah’s 10 higher education institutions to find itself under the microscope for potential Title IX violations.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights opened an investigation into the Orem-based university earlier this month, though it does not disclose specific details about the allegations it is reviewing.
Under Title IX, schools have an obligation to swiftly investigate reports of sexual violence. They also must provide services to individuals who report discrimination or violence — including counseling, help with school work and housing changes — if requested.
In a statement Monday, UVU spokesman Layton Shumway said the school "is committed to genuine inclusion and providing a safe environment for all.”
“The university takes these matters very seriously and is proactively pursuing the appropriate actions as prescribed by current policies and best practices,” he added.
Federal authorities also are investigating three other Utah schools — the University of Utah, Brigham Young University and Westminster College — for potentially mishandling complaints of sexual violence. Dixie State University is being investigated for allegedly mishandling a sexual harassment dispute with a student.
As of last week, the feds were investigating 358 sexual-violence cases at 254 higher education institutions.
Institutions found to have violated Title IX often reach settlements with the federal government under which they must show they are making new efforts to comply with the law. Schools can lose their federal funding over the issue, though experts say that has never happened.
The Office for Civil Rights has said it aims to resolve complaints in 180 days, but it can take longer depending on the case. Westminster, for example, has been under investigation since January 2015.